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Video: PO threatens concealed-carry driver with execution, beating

Posted 07-23-2011 at 10:06 by RussP

A comment was put to Sam Spade: "Folks like me perceive that this guy is not an anomaly, that the job attracts guys like this."

Here is his response.
Originally Posted by Sam Spade View Post
This was posed to me privately. I've sanitized it enough to protect privacy; I think it goes to underlying concerns and ought to be addressed. Apologies in advance if the response rambles a bit--I'm composing as I type and the question is more complex than can be addressed with a sound bite.

The easy part: Are there more guys like this out there? Of course. He's everywhere, and you're foolish if you don't think so. IMO, LE does a better job than (say) FedEx of screening these people out, if only because LE knows to look for them. But that's a generalization, because "LE" is comprised of a huge number of independent agencies. They're often jealously independent, and Americans want it that way. Trivia, but related: Almost half of the agencies in the country employ fewer than 10 cops. Something like 5% of the agencies out there are just one cop.

Does the job attract guys like this? I'm not sure it matters, because between who's attracted to the job and who gets the job is a whole lot of screening and training/evaluation. Now, when you spike your hiring and lower your standards, your agency is more likely to have issues. DC and NOLA are classic examples; the emerging issues in Customs may be another. When you pay crap, you have a lower quality applicant pool to start with. That can be overcome with more diligent screening and training, but if what you're willing to devote to pay is that low, what you're willing to devote to the other stuff is almost certain to be low as well.

What does the job attract? Does the job attract bullies and such? Hard to answer: First, you have to dump the internet lore that has every cop as the high school bully. Oh, and dump the internet lore that has every cop being the guy who got stuffed into a locker in high school. What the job attracts a disproportionate number of ISTJs and INTJs. (Refer to Meyers-Briggs if you don't get it.) That tendency towards introversion plays a role I'll come back to. But the majority of police departments are employing background checks (96%), psychological screening (61%) and polygraphs (50%+) to eliminate problem children at the start, and larger departments are more likely to do so than smaller. The percentages are from the Department of Justice, BTW, at http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/lpd00.pdf . It's a 10-year old survey, but the trends on the numbers are up.

Does *your* community fail to run backgrounds or psychs on the guys it commissions as cops? Obviously, I don't know. In fairness, the departments with 1 or 2 cops may not need to, IF they're hiring locally from the "Everyone knows Joe" pool. Yours? That's on you.

To my mind, more important than "what does the job attract" are two other questions. The first, "What does the community support?" I've already touched on. And I chose "support" purposefully. It's fine and dandy to "demand" high standards and impeccable conduct. It's quite another kettle of fish to pay for those standards and create an environment where people with those standards want to work. If GTPI were a city, you couldn't pay me enough to work here.

The second more important question is this: What type of guys does the job create? You saw the numbers and probably know something about the process that gets you cops. In honesty, it's pretty good overall. The care and feeding of cops....we suck at that. Ongoing training, employee assistance, supervisors who can detect issues that are developing and know what to do about them...we suck at that. It's compounded, IMO, by those introverts that are attracted to the job. (BTW, I mean "introvert" in the ISTJ usage, not the pop culture term.) The profession has got to do a better job of developing and caring for its human resources. We know what to do; at least, we know how to do far more than we are. The culture, the personalities and the budgets are combining against meaningful improvements here.

What do you do about it when some guy becomes this guy? That's another question and there simply aren't enough facts for anyone (self included) on the board to answer that. It's obvious that the behavior can't be tolerated or condoned, but beyond that it gets trickier.

"He should go to prison/I would go to jail if I talked to a cop like that". Ummm...no. No guarantee whatsoever of either of those things. The tape is ugly in the extreme, but it's not a slam-dunk crime. Complain all you want that "there ought to be a law", but there might not be. CACop has already weighed in on his jurisdiction. I can't remember how many people have used similar language to me, none of whom have gone for it. Heck, I can't even be a victim of disorderly conduct here. Could your locale be different? Yes, it could. And that doesn't matter, just like CA and AZ don't matter. Ohio matters and we'll see how that plays out. It might be a misdemeanor there.

"He's human trash and needs to be fired". Again, maybe so. But, gentle reader, what if? What if we made him like that? What if the things his community demanded of him combined with a lack of support it gave him to create that screamer from sterling raw material? And what if those factors are creating more screamers as I type? I'm in a culture that values loyalty almost as much as it values honesty. And that loyalty has to run in both directions. It's a department and city decision as to what the just treatment of this guy is, how much of a future liability he is, what's gained and lost if they keep him and so on.

I've gone on enough for now. Let me finish with a note to the aliens here. This post is reporting, not advocating. And try to read what I actually wrote.
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  1. Old Comment
    LMGTEXAS's Avatar
    As a 25-year veteran of the criminal justice system (Police Officer, Corrections Officer, Probation Officer, Prison Warden, Court Administrator), I've got enough experience to think this can't be the first time this particular officer has had "problems" on the job. If this was his first inappropriate contact with a citizen, his Department needs to insure he undergoes further training and close evaluation because his actions reflect so poorly on all the good officers out there. Remember, most citizens, if they have any contact at all with a Police Officer, will have it during a "routine" traffic stop. Think of the positive PR the Department can get from a traffic stop conducted in a professional manner. But the stop in question (as seen by all these posts) will continue to do tremendous harm to the reputation of all officers because the real facts will never end up in the conversations that result during braks, parties, etc.
    Posted 07-23-2011 at 23:27 by LMGTEXAS LMGTEXAS is offline
  2. Old Comment
    sgtlmj's Avatar
    I read an article that said the guy had around 12 IA investigations in the last 10 years. His union rep said that it was "clearly an isolated incident" though, so it's okay.
    Posted 07-27-2011 at 19:19 by sgtlmj sgtlmj is offline
  3. Old Comment
    sapphiredish's Avatar
    As a ex police officer in L.A. I have seen alot of things and never once did I or other officers act in this manner... My thoughts are most I would say 95% of officers are GREAT!! They are someone that you can count on...But it was not the first time he has done that.. I think there was several issues on that video that needs to be addressed...The video your talking about was filmed on 6-8-2011 There is now a second video out of Officer Harless doing the same thing from July 28 2010 but the first one was not a CCW... You can view it at http://www.cantonrep.com/news/x20149...another-arrest
    Posted 07-31-2011 at 11:04 by sapphiredish sapphiredish is offline
    Updated 07-31-2011 at 11:13 by sapphiredish (Not trying to bash law enforcement just want to inform)

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